Have you ever wondered why one author can have a big success promoting a book in a certain way but when you try, it doesn’t work? There are many factors that can affect the success of a promotion campaign. Here are eight of them:
1. You are at different stages of your writing careers. What works when you’re established doesn’t work if you’re just getting started. When Big Name Author sends out a newsletter to 20,000 fans, she gets a huge boost in sales that you won’t get with your list of 300. If she runs a Facebook party she has the draw of fans who are interested specifically in her books. A new author won’t have the same success and may draw more prize seekers than fans. Likewise, Big Name Author may say that doing promotion x is a waste of time, but for a newbie, promotion x might be a necessary, even critical, first step.
2. The genre. Some genres are more popular and sell better than others. Others have a more targeted and easier to identity readership base. Certain promotions work better with certain genres. When I wrote spanking romance, blogging was a great way to promote books because the spanking community had an established online presence. Blogging for sci-fi romance doesn’t work nearly as well. Certain review sites only take certain genres. Authors of some genres are more organized and supportive of each other than in others.
3. Changes in the publishing market. The market is different now than it was a year ago and is dramatically different than it was five, seven years ago. What may have worked then doesn’t work so well now or may not even be an option an longer. For example: When Amazon first rolled out KDP Select, an author could list a book for free for five days, and when it switched back to paid, they kept their rankings. That gave them enormous visibility, resulted in a boost in sales, and they built a fan base. A lot of Indie authors doing well now got their start in the old days of KDP Select. Do a free promotion now, and your ranking drops back to what it was before it became free. Authors no longer get that extra visibility in paid sales. (Doing freebies still has merit though!). Kindle Unlimited was originally way more lucrative than it is now. So when an author tells you he/she got their big break doing x, you need to know how long ago she started doing x.
4. What goes on behind the scenes. For every visible promotional campaign, invisible actions may be happening that you don’t know about. For example: a free promotion. Author A might make a book free, get a huge number of downloads, a big increase in sales of her other books, loads of reviews, and a boost in fan base. You try it and very little happens. What you don’t see is how much advertisement Author A put into gaining visibility for that freebie. Or you may have picked different newsletters to advertise in. Some newsletters have great ROI; some have poor. The other author may have gotten a Book Bub deal.
5. Whether a book is a standalone or part of a series. You have more options to promote a series than you do a standalone. Making a first book in a series free or pricing it at 99 cents will result in more sales for the other books in the series. Make a standalone free and you don’t get the same results, even if you have other books.
6. Differences in expectations. Authors might talk about their successes, but their definition might be different from yours. If they say they tried x and it worked great, their definition of success might be more modest than yours. Some authors would be thrilled to sell 300 books a month; for others, that would be considered a “tank.”
7. Whether a book is Indie or traditionally published. There are advantages to both that are not available to the other. Authors with an e-book publisher gets the boost of being on the publisher’s website (often the home page) and featured in the publisher’s new release newsletter list, which can be quite large. This gives authors a huge advantage with new releases that an Indie doesn’t have. So while Author A and Author B might be following the same promotional plan for a new release, one author might have an extra boost that the other doesn’t have. An Indie has the flexibility to use price discounts to manage sales for the longer term. They can do free and 99 cent promotions that Trad-published authors can’t take advantage of. They can do Kindle Unlimited and take advantage of borrows.
8. Lies and Omissions. You can’t assume that everything other authors say is true or that they are telling you the whole story. They might say they promoted their successful book by writing 100 blogs, but what they really did is write 100 blogs and spend $2,000 on advertising. A successful advertising gig or promotional strategy is a lot like a good fishing hole. They’re reluctant to share it.
What other factors do you think affect the success or failure of a promotion?